Oak Creek to look at insurance

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A 30-percent increase in Oak Creek's health insurance proved to be too much for the Oak Creek Town Board, whose trustees decided to look into other options for health insurance providers on Thursday night.

The town can't afford such steep increases, Trustee J. Elliott said. Another concern is that such a jump could happen again next year, he said.

The Town Board learned Thursday that it would take $84,500 to renew its health insurance with BlueCross/BlueShield, compared with the $65,000 the plan cost last year. Eight town employees are insured through the program.

The Town Board agreed to renew its package with BlueCross/BlueShield for one month and to research other options during that time. One future solution that town trustees talked about Thursday was for the town to self-insure, a method in which it would purchase only catastrophic insurance for employees and put the funds it now pays for insurance in an account to pay employee claims.

Town staff was surprised when the pricetag on the renewal came back higher than the budgeted increase to $76,000, Oak Creek Treasurer Karrie Littman said.

"(It) kind of shook all of us up a little bit," Littman said.

Since early Thursday, one insurance provider has called the town, saying it could offer a better insurance package, and Littman said she could think of two other groups from which to get bids.

Local governments across the nation are facing a similar increase in health insurance costs, Town Clerk Nancy Crawford said.

Oak Creek Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said she thought it would be beneficial for other municipalities across the county to join together and go out for an insurance package.

"It seems like if we could group all of these people together, we ought to get a better rate," Rodeman said.

Rodeman said it was a priority for her to maintain good benefits for employees.

"One thing I really don't want to do with out employees is drop their coverage" or lessen their benefits, Rodeman said. "I think we have a great plan."

The Town Board also requested claims information from town employees for the past few years.

In other business:

n The Town Board received an update from Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman about the status of grants for the wastewater treatment plant project. The town has received a $500,000 grant from the state Energy Impact Fund and was waiting for a $500,000 grant and loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rodeman said the USDA stated it would be better for the town to fix the wastewater treatment plant and its entire collection system at the same time, and so the USDA would let the town borrow $1 million and would grant it any needed funds above that. The Town Board told Rodeman to look into that option.

n Town Board trustees discussed helping to provide street access to the affordable housing sites proposed by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. Rodeman said she thought it could be a good compromise for the town to grade the road and spread gravel, if the Housing Authority purchased the gravel. Other town trustees said they needed more information about how much time that work would require from town employees. The Town Board agreed to get more information about the issue before making a decision.

n The Town Board tabled an ordinance to correct and ratify the annexation of the James Addition until it could get more information about electrical service to the homes that would be annexed.

n A second bid on a town-owned 0.7-acre lot was received, which means the town will allow closed bids on the property for the next two weeks and then could sell the lot to the highest bidder at its next meeting.

n The Town Board approved a final plat for the Sierra View subdivision, pending attorney approval, a letter of credit for yet-to-be-finished improvements and approval from the fire and building departments for allowing the developers officially to sell the lots without all improvements finished.

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